Like many others I strive for a certain kind of accomplishment every day. I want to achieve great things while handling life's habitual tasks including those actions we are usually not prepared for, and be able to review my day with all my main tasks checked off.
If you are not some kind of super computer or someone who has incredible management skills, you may want to have (or start if you haven't already) some kind of system to manage the things you do. Having ideas or things you want to do is great, but not really useful if you forget about them again, can't do anything about them for the moment, or they just keep coming to your mind over and over again, keeping you from focusing on the thing you have to do right now.
After failing to get into it the first time, I'm finally reading David Allen's book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" and if you want to get serious about "Getting Things Done", you should definitely read it, especially as many things in OmniFocus follow the concept of GTD. Only after starting to read the book, I understood many things I've never used before as I didn't know what significance they had.
So why use an app like OmniFocus? The obvious answer is because this way you're "Getting Things Done".
What follows is a collection of things that I consider to be relevant with the release OmniFocus 2 for Mac. A short history of when OmniFocus 2 first went public, reviews by dedicated writers, tips, tricks and more content related to OmniFocus in general, and some final words about why you should get (into) it.
A Public Timeline of OmniFocus 2
(The information on the following list is taken from "The Omni Blog")
- December 2012: Omni’s Plans for 2013 – The Omni Group talks about their plan to bring OmniFocus 2 back to the Mac with a new design and features they first integrated on the iPad version like Forecast and Review modes.
- January 2013: Anticipating OmniFocus 2 – Without revealing further details about OmniFocus itself, The Omni Group teases that OmniFocus 2 for Mac will be shown to the public for the first time during The OmniFocus 2 Debut. Also mentioning that they will open the public beta tests.
- February 2013: Debut of OmniFocus 2 – The first public screenshots for OmniFocus' new design are available including the long awaited Forecast View, a new Inspector (no separate window anymore), and a Review mode (which wasn't yet ready at this time). It's really interesting to see how much about the design was actually taken from the iPad version. Other interesting facts, the estimated time of release (no precise date to be clear, but after continuos testing it could take 4–6 weeks), and the really interesting part, the pricing was already clear at this time: $79.99 for the Pro Version, $39.99 for the Standard Version, update/upgrade prices also stayed the same (if the post hasn't been updated).
- February 2013: OmniFocus 2 Debut – The video from the OmniFocus 2 Debut is available (more on that later).
- March 2013: Help us make OmniFocus the best app it can be – After Internal Testing, The Omni Group received over 17,000 request for Private Testing where they made the beta available for more testers with time before releasing it as a Public Beta for everyone.
- June 2014: OmniFocus 2 test going quiet – Sad news after some months of testing the app and waiting for release a date. Before finishing OmniFocus 2 for Mac, Apple releases iOS 7 in which they reveal a completely new design. Inspired by this new approach, The Omni Group decides to go back into heads-down mode and keep OmniFocus in internal hands again.
- September 2013: iOS 7 & Omni: What’s new, what’s cool – Let's focus on the iPhone. Due to iOS 7 The Omni Group had to shift their focus away from their Mac version and concentrate on a new design for the iPhone version to be ready for the release of iOS 7. This is where you can see the new design direction The Omni Group took for the new version(s) of OmniFocus.
- March 2014: OmniFocus 2 for Mac resumes testing, will ship in June – It's nearly exactly one year after opening the OmniFocus 2 testing to the public for the first time that The Omni Group drops the big news: "When will OmniFocus 2 for Mac ship?” June, 2014! Testing is also open again, and pre-Mavericks tester already were in. What you can now see in the first screenshot of the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac is the completely revamped design which now doesn't look like the iPad anymore, but has an iPhone version like iOS 7 design – clean and flat with subtle colors. This new version also features a new Forecast View, an Inspector that is even better integrated, and a working Review Mode for the nearly 30,000(!) testers to try.
- May 2014: OmniFocus 2 for Mac: Available Now – A little earlier than planned, OmniFocus 2 for Mac is released into the wild! After publishing several beta updates (sometimes even more updates in one day!) OmniFocus 2 is ready for everyone, featuring a brand new design, the long awaited Forecast feature, Review to integrate another important part of the "Getting Things Done" mentality, Quick Open to find and open everything even faster, and more. Also available are more goodies like videos, a collection of workflows etc. (called Inside OmniFocus), and a nice looking User Manual in the iBooks Store, but more about that later as well.
Instead of adding my Review to the internet, I thought about pointing you in the direction of what I think is some of the best writing (especially for reviews and related things) out there.
In no particular order, I'd like to start with Shawn Blanc. Shawn has written an insightful review of an app he's been using for four years. You can see the passion he has for this system (and the trust he puts in it).
"Like a good wallet, OmniFocus has held together the crazy and necessary bits of my life through all sorts of seasons. From my time as a creative director managing a team of 17, to my transition as a self-employed full-time blogger, through dozens of business trips and vacations, through two kids, innumerable projects around the house, and so, so, so much more."
Next in line is Stephen Hackett who has a shorter but great review for people who may not be sure if they should upgrade or not and would want to know how it feels, how it looks, what's new, what's nice, and what's the price.
"If you use OmniFocus, upgrading to the new version should be a no-brainer. It's beautiful, fast and packs the same punch the old version did. It doesn't bring a long list of new features, but it does its job reliably and easily. It's hard to ask for much more from a tool I depend on daily."
What I like most about his review is that he says a lot about the app in a few words. Either you like it or not. Everything's still here and things have gotten better.
And last but not least, Federico Viticci who's known for delivering fantastic content and in-depth reviews, decided that as a non-OmniFocus user:
"[…] it'd be interesting to evaluate OmniFocus 2 with a fresh pair of eyes and a genuine curiosity for the work put into this new version."
… and that's just what he does with his review of "OmniFocus 2 for Mac from a Reminders User’s Perspective".
After going back to Apple's Reminders and Calendar with iCloud (in integration with third-party apps), Viticci went back to OmniFocus to write a review about it. For someone who isn't using this system (anymore), he's as usual dissecting the app to look at the internals carefully. Feature by feature he goes through the app explaining what it does and what he thinks about it, and what he thinks could be different.
After one week of using OmniFocus (one week!) some good "final" words:
"Forecast, Review mode, Quick Open, the Inspector, the new sidebar, and pinnable Perspectives make OmniFocus easier to use and navigate; for users who manage dozens of projects and hundreds of actions each week, these new features are clear improvements that speed up OmniFocus and bring it on par with the feature set offered on iOS. Forecast and Quick Open are especially well implemented and useful."
As I said before, who needs another review, if you have these.
Some interesting informations about the upgrade process via the Mac App Store, the pricing, Pro- Vs. Standard, Help, and more.
First of all, this and more information is available on Omni Group's site if you search for it. Some things are just more comfortable if available at a glance.
By now you may have heard that there are two versions of OmniFocus 2, but what do they cost and what's the difference? The difference between Standard and Pro is that the Pro version adds more powerful tools to the system: Focus, Custom Perspectives, and AppleScript. More information about what's new can be found here. If you've used OmniFocus before and you changed or created Perspectives, you'll need to upgrade to Pro. Same with Scripts, if you've automated things or created a certain workflow, Pro is for you as well. If you use OmniFocus as a more advanced task list with more features, the Standard version could be enough for your needs.
From a price perspective, the Standard version will cost $39.99 with the Pro Upgrade as an In-App Purchase of $39.99 as well. These are the Mac App Store prices. There's no way to offer the Standard version at a discount. You're in luck if you purchased OmniFocus from the Mac App Store recently, if not you're still eligible for a free Pro Upgrade. The upgrade pricing is further explained here.
Let's recap the pricing:
Via Mac App Store: Standard: $39.99 • Pro: +$39.99 IAP (= $79.98)
→ Upgrade for OmniFocus 1 user: Standard: $39.99 (or Free Update if eligible) • Pro: Free IAP (= $39.99)
Via Omni Store: Standard: $39.99 • Pro: $79.99
→ Upgrade for OmniFocus 1 user: Standard: $19.99 • Pro: $39.99
If you own OmniFocus 1 and want to upgrade to OmniFocus 2 via the Mac App Store or the Omni Store, here's what you're looking for.
Give Me More OmniFocus
If you'd like to know more about OmniFocus and what you can do with it, this section may be of interest to you.
As already mentioned above, The Omni Group itself offers several things on what's new, how to use the app, workflows, articles and videos by OmniFocus users. There are also several useful things in The Omni Group Forums, like this entry by Ken Case where he explains on how to get the old "all information in one line" layout back if you preferred that.
Inside OmniFocus is a newly created site by The Omni Group where they "[…] show off different workflows from a few OmniFocus users, tools or services that work well with the suite, and more." For the moment they already have an impressive line-up of user-workflows including Kourosh Dini, Sabra Morris, David Sparks, Jan-Yves Ruzicka, and Sven Fechner. If you want to get into OmniFocus, this is your first step to learning about some great insights.
There's also a great Tools & Services section with several links about email integration, using Evernote, AppleScript, third-party apps on iOS, and more.
Videos And Getting Deep Into OmniFocus
On the video page of Omni Group's site, you can find some real gems about how to get even deeper into using OmniFocus.
Besides introduction videos about the new Perspectives, New Icons, and Forecast in OmniFocus 2 for Mac, you can browse through a big library of all things OmniFocus, starting with both iPhone versions, the iPad version, the previous Mac version, to OmniFocus In The Field and Macworld Presentations.
But best of all, you have all the presentations from The OmniFocus Setup 2013 with a great panel. Unfortunately there's no way to link to the category, so you'll have to scroll down. Here's a link to the "OmniFocus Setup Panel and Q&A" so you have something to start with.
Even More OmniFocus
There's so much great content about OmniFocus available right at your finger tips. Here's a little more I think you should definitely be looking at. Everything you'll find below ranges from beginner to pro level, but even if you're a master of all things OmniFocus (and Productivity), there's always something to learn. You could find something in a beginner course you haven't ever heard of before.
Let's get started with something really useful that is integrated in the app itself, the OmniFocus Help ("Help > OmniFocus Help"). I couldn't believe how much information is available in the Help Document. The second thing you can instantly look at is the Keyboard Commands Cheat Sheet ("Help > Keyboard Commands"). It's also massive. Check it out to find some useful shortcuts that could save you quite some time.
Let's customize those Perspective Icons. To get started, open up the Perspectives window ("Perspectives > Show Perspectives). Select or create a custom Perspective and choose the icon that suites you most. Not enough choice? Let's get some more. If you want some customized Perspective Icons, get the Free Set by Josh Hughes which were created for OmniFocus 2.
Next up, more OmniFocus reading published by The Omni Group itself. You can get the OmniFocus 2 for Mac User Manual for free on the iBooks Store and it contains a great amount of information about how to use OmniFocus with detailed explanations and screenshots.
Videos And Screencasts
If you are more the visual type of person and prefer to have someone show you how to do things, the following links to video introduction courses and screencasts may be what you are looking for.
Tim Stringer released two screencast on his site Technically Simple where he gives an introduction of "What's New in OmniFocus 2" including a guide on making the move, and if you're completely new to OmniFocus, there's also a "Getting Started" video that walks you through the first steps and explains the user interface.
Furthermore the team behind Asian Efficiency also released a nice screencast on how to "Go from OmniFocus 1 to OmniFocus 2" with a walkthrough of what changed and where to find the things you may be missing now.
If you're looking for a highly professional video tutorial, Don MacAllister from ScreenCastsOnline offers Part 1 of his OmniFocus 2 for Mac Tutorial for free. For future parts you'll need a subscription, but if this isn't for you, you'll already get a lot from the first part.
Old, but still relevant
To finish this list of OmniFocus starters, here's some content that was mainly created for OmniFocus 1, but that doesn't mean that it isn't relevant or can't be used with the new version.
As I just mentioned them, let's continue with Asian Efficiency. They have created something called the "OmniFocus Premium Posts" in which they train you to be highly productive with OmniFocus. They dive into topics that you can use in your everyday life, but also go trough problems you could face in a big corporation. They are currently working on an update of their Premium Posts, but as mentioned before, everything they talk about can already be implemented in your life now.
Someone who's also working on an update of his OmniFocus 1 version is Kourosh Dini. His book "Creating Flow with OmniFocus" is a 500+ pages guide to manage your personal and professional life with OmniFocus. As described by Kourosh, "Creating Flow with OmniFocus guides you from the basics to the most advanced uses one step at a time".
For quite some time now I'm waiting for Sven Fechner's (SimplicitiyBliss) ebook about OmniFocus. I'm looking forward to see his take on how to get your things done in OmniFocus. As for now, he shares some great content about all possible things you can do with OmniFocus on his site. On this dedicated OmniFocus page he links to some basics about how to improve your work, but also gets into some more advanced stuff about working with this system. Here's also a link to all his latests posts about OmniFocus. Definitely worth checking out.
(Update: While finishing/cleaning up my post, I found out that Sven seemed to have had the same/similar idea I had with this kind of post – you can check out his take on it here)
David "MacSparky" Sparks is also someone who could teach you one or the other useful trick or workflow about using OmniFocus. Here's a link to his old but still relevant screencasts about using OmniFocus. As always, things look different now, but still work the same way. You should also follow this link to his OmniFocus posts to get to more MacSparky OmniFocus goodness.
I can't stress enough that OmniFocus is such an immense app/system that there's always more to learn. The crucial thing though is to not only fiddle with how to make your trusted system work, but to actually get work done.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I see OmniFocus more as a system to help you create even more great things. Instead of losing an important thought, get it into your system and work on it later.
OmniFocus (in general) offered the possibility to get more important things done, and this update makes it even easier to see what you should be working on.
To concur with other writers, if you've been using OmniFocus before, OmniFocus 2 for Mac is the best way to go.
You can get OmniFocus 2 for Mac on the Mac App Store for $39.99, the iPhone version is available for $19.99, and the iPad is priced at $39.99 as well.